Stabalise our global food issue by eating bugs
In 2013, the United Nations published a seminal report that became the catalyst for the entomophagy movement and the most downloaded document the UN had ever produced. What’s all the buzz about? Bugs. Edible insects, to be exact. By 2050, the global population will expand to nine billion people, an increase of two billion that will leave us with a food shortage. Insects have been mooted as a potential solution to help stabilise our global food issue. Here’s why you should hop on the bug trend.
The Food and Drug Administration federal agency in the US already allows bugs in processed foods. Tinned mushrooms have up to 20 maggots per 100ml, and the same amount of chocolate has up to 60 insect parts. Then there’s cochineal, a type of beetle used as a natural red dye in strawberry yogurts, ketchup and some flavoured drinks and sweets. The list goes on. You’re already consuming them without knowing it, so you might as well make the most of it.
Bugs are hailed for their minimal use of natural resources in comparison to animal agriculture – especially crickets, which take up far less water, land and feed. They also pump out very little carbon emissions and ammonia compared to factory farming. Crickets are vertically farmed, requiring less space, and the yield from feed to usable product is astounding. Most of the cricket is edible, but that drops to only 40 percent with pigs, while chickens don’t fare much better, with 55 percent. In addition, the gestation period of a cricket is about a month compared to beef, which is almost a full year.
For a lot of people, restricting your intake of insects – aside from those mushrooms, of course – is an emotional and intellectual reaction to the yuck factor. This is partly because insects are thought of as pests and not food. “When the potato came into Europe, it was an enormous cultural effort to integrate it into the European food system because, for anyone who lives in a settled society with cities, root-eating is a sign of being like animals,” says food historian Rachel Lauden and author of Cuisine and Empire. “Roots were animal food in Europe, so basically the poor had to be bludgeoned into adopting the potato in the 17th and 18th century.” Fast-forward to the 21st century and eating potatoes is no longer frowned upon, so perhaps we need to get over our aversion to insects.
Most farms kill their crickets humanely. They’re frozen and put into hibernation, which mirrors diapause, an insect’s natural way of sleeping. Crickets are known as the gateway bug and their neutral flavour means they’re generally considered the most boring of all the insects. They have an earthy and nutty flavour, and can take on the profile of whatever spice you mix them with.
If you’re ready for the next level, buy some cricket flour. Smoothies or baking is your best bet. Simply use any normal recipe and cut back on the flour, adding the cricket flour instead. The particle size is a bit bigger, so be prepared for a change in texture. Take a look at the Aketta website for some inspiration.
When you’re finally ready to go the whole insect, take the insects and try to shake off the wings, legs and antenna, as it’s not uncommon for one of those ancillary parts to get caught in your throat. Place the insects in a sieve and shake. A household salad spinner works great as it’s just big enough to capture the body but release the extra parts.